Tell us a little about Lying in Ruins, how did it come into being? What was your Eureka! moment?
Since I wanted my story to take place after the collapse of civilised society, Lying in Ruins came into focus in a roundabout way. I’ve always been fascinated with how human society would change and what the end results would be. So, I basically started with a touch of end time prophesies, added the spicy kick from a couple of papers on what would splinter modern society and how it would reform, then, for an additional flavour, threw in a group of mercenary type judges and one stubborn, nosy spy and hit blend. That being said, I don’t know I’d call it an “Eureka moment”, more like stumbling into a dark room, trying to find the light switch only to bounce off objects until I ran into an unforgiving wall of inspiration where the switch lived. Eventually I managed to get the lights on.
Can you give us a little tease of the relationship between Charity and Ruin?
Because you asked so nicely, I’ll give you one of the first moments the two share when not dealing with life’s more violent aspects:
The shadows brushing along the straight blade of his nose left half of his face in murky darkness. The unusual amber colouring of his eyes as he watched her watch him captured her. Unable to break their startling intense connection, her pulse thickened as lust wound its way through her exhausted body. ‘You’re dangerous.’ The unchecked truth slipped out without warning.
‘Very.’ The low rumble of his voice merged with the quiet night. ‘But so are you.’
For some reason, his observation made her happy. ‘Yes, I am. Does that worry you?’
His slow, sexy smile wormed its way below her lazy lust. ‘Nah.’ He reached out and traced the side of her face with his finger, before tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. She didn’t fight the chills racing over her skin at the strangely intimate touch. He leant over, closing in. His shoulders blocked out the light, leaving them stranded in shadows and unspoken expectations. ‘I’ve always enjoyed a little danger.
This exchange, simple though it is, catches the essence of their relationship, the lure of dangerous attraction coupled with the harrowing edge of not knowing how far you can trust the other. These two are deadly forces in their own right, but there’s a fascination that happens when they meet their match.
What draws you to Charity’s qualities as a heroine?
Charity manages to maintain her sense of humour despite the nightmares she’s survived. In her position as the master spy to one of the major power players, cynicism is her middle name and she’s all too aware everyone has secrets that can be exploited, even her. Still she manages to hold on to the things that are important to her—loyalty to those she considers hers and a core of honour she crafted that fits her life. She doesn’t apologize for who she is and she doesn’t sugar coat what she does. She isn’t looking for a partner, but when one comes along and manages to sneak inside her independent heart, she’ll stand at his side, head unbowed and spine strong.
And Ruin’s as a hero?
Ruin reminds me of a Transformer—there’s much more to him than meets the eye. He uses his sarcastic humour and lazy demeanour to mask the scars life has left on him. Since trust doesn’t come easy to him and is reserved only for a special few, his worldview tends to be smeared with watchful suspicion. He’s emotionally guarded, for good reason, so when Charity hits the scene, he has a difficult time reconciling his physical attraction for her with his emotional desire to let her in. He kind of reminds me of cross between Deadpool and Gambit from X-Men (and yes, I’m a huge geek) because he can pull off the lethal soldier with charming flirt.
What came first, the plot, setting, or characters? Did you have any difficulties writing any of them?
As a character driven writer, normally my characters tend to come first, but this time, the setting hit the stage first. Not only did it steal the spotlight, but it forced the characters to take their positions. The hardest part wasn’t the characters or the setting, but trying to recognise that if certain things, say manufacturing, weren’t readily accessible, what is that impact on everyday things. For example, if ammunition is no longer mass produced, you would reuse your spent shells. Or with medicine, what natural remedies would you turn to when pharma companies would be relegated to higher density populations, leaving outlying communities to fare on their own. Those were the story points that tended to slow my writing pace.
What draws you to the post-apocalyptic setting? Is it a genre you enjoy reading in?
My first series was an urban fantasy, where magic co-existed with the modern world, and a post-apocalyptic setting is like taking that another step further. It’s a setting where society considers rules as suggestions because every individual’s goal is survival. The setting brings its own conflict into the story—how far will people go to stay alive. I do enjoy reading post-apocalyptic stories because I find it fascinating what characters are willing to do to keep breathing. One of my all time favourite reads is Stephen King’s The Stand. It scared they ever-lovin’ bejesus out of me, but it also made my “what-if” addiction kick in with a vengeance.
What began your romance writing career?
An avid reader, when I hit high school, in-between the fantasy and murder-mysteries from my school library, I started sneaking my mom’s romance novels out of the house. Then entering the big bad world as an adult, I stumbled through life and discovered my characters suddenly became harder to hurt (emotionally and physically) while their relationships became crucial to my stories. A therapist would have a field day with this, but my stories shifted to heroines who didn’t need a hero to ride to her rescue. Sometimes it was more satisfying if she rumbled up to his rescue on her Harley.
What are your favourite books and authors to read? Romance or otherwise?
Off the top of my head and just for today, let’s go with Christine Feehan, Ilona Andrews, and Kristen Ashley.
Now Christine does Paranormal Romance like no one’s business and she’s been doing it for a while (I think her first Dark novel was published in 1999). Her Dark series is the typical alpha male hero and her heroines got stronger and stronger with each book, until some of her latest Dark titles the heroines could kick the heroes’ butts. This was the first series I found her with, but when she did her Ghostwalker series, she had me for life. Even her Leopards and Sisters of the Heart (plus the spin-offs) kept me nabbing her books as soon as they hit the shelves. There’s something about the worlds she creates that sucks you in and won’t let you go.
Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels Urban Fantasy series is one I read and re-read time and time again. She does a fabulous job of giving us a dangerous, flawed heroine who isn’t looking for a man, hell she doesn’t even want a partner, but our hero really doesn’t give a damn since he has a stake in whatever is currently happening. Together, this reluctant couple dominants a unique world that so close to our own, you could almost believe it’s ours. Again, Ilona, like Christine, does a mind-blowing job on world building and character creation.
When anyone asks for a recommendation for a good contemporary romance writer, I give them Kristen. She ties her Rock Chick series, into four other series, and the main tie are her characters. Each one is so well developed, you swear if you went to Colorado and found Fortum’s Bookstore, you know you’d meet Tex or any one of her characters there. They are that real. She creates characters you want to be and who you’d be thrilled to call friends. They aren’t perfect (far from it), but they deal with the same basic issues we face (doubt, fear, love, friendship, family drama) except they have to dodge bombs, learn to pole dance, and handle Taser’s like some modern day Jesse James. That kind of character development is just inspiring.
Where do you like to write? How do you write?
I used to escape to the coffee shop, but then I found I tended to get sucked into people watching and my writing wandered off. Now, I stay at home at the banker desk I inherited from my dad-in-law, plop my headphones on so I can drown out the sounds of my hubby and sons doing their world domination stuff in the background, and type away.
To ensure I hit those pesky things called deadlines, I have a set schedule I follow. So when I get home from the job-that-pays-the-bills, find my way through the daily drama, I will disappear into my world for a couple of hours until I hit my word count. I’ve set my writing schedule so I can do five days out of seven, because I have learned that life likes to mess with your schedule whenever and wherever it can, and does so with random gleefulness.
When I first start out, I have the major points somewhat in place. Think of it like a map with highway signs—Exit 1-Our couple meets in nefarious circumstances, Exit 2-Hero or heroine does something that makes the other wonder WTH?, Exit 3-Crap hits the fan, and so forth. However, even with this rough map, the journey never stays on track. As long my characters hit the high points, I let them lead. I do tend to re-read what I wrote the previous session, fix where needed, then move forward. I’m not that good at keeping my internal editor quiet. It generally requires a couple rolls of duct tape and some serious threats of chocolate deprivation for her to shut up so I can write.
Can you give any advice to aspiring authors out there?
Write. Don’t talk about, don’t just imagine it, sit down and do it. Ignore the latest “trends”, or those that tell you it’s silly, just write the story that is burning a hole through your soul. That’s the one we’re going to want to read.
It’s the same advice I got when I first started so I figure it’s good enough to share.
What do you do when you’re not writing? Any quirky hobbies?
Read, yoga, and drink coffee, not necessarily in that order. Oh, I’m currently taking a German Long Sword class with my son. Yeah, I know, not sure when that particular skill will be necessary, but you never know.
In a world gone to hell, it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad…
The world didn’t end in fire and explosions, instead it collapsed slowly, like falling dominoes, an intensifying panic of disease, food shortages, wild weather and collapsing economies, until what remained of humanity battles for survival in a harsh new reality.
Charity uses lethal survival skills learned too early in her work as a ‘Hound, sniffing out pivotal secrets for one of the most powerful people on the west coast. Her work is deceptive, deadly, and best performed solo, which means when she has a run-in with a member of the notorious Fate’s Vultures, she has no intention of joining forces in some mockery of teamwork. The man might be sexy as hell, but she travels alone. She will accomplish her mission and she will settle a score – hopefully with the edge of her blade. But fate has other plans.
As one of Fate’s Vultures, a nomadic band of arbitrators known for their ruthless verdicts, Ruin witnesses the carnage of corruption and greed battering the remnants of humanity, and he bears the scars to prove it. Now he has a damn ‘Hound showing up in suspicious circumstances, leaving every cell of his body sceptical – and painfully aroused. The woman is trouble, and Ruin has every intention of steering clear. But when they realise they have a common enemy, Charity and Ruin will have to set aside their distrust if they want to achieve their mutual goal – justice and revenge.
Sometimes, when the world’s gone to hell, it’s better to stick with the devil you know…
“Dark, Chaotic…Loved it!” – Tome Tender
“This book delivered” – Kim, Goodreads
“Five full stars” – Debbie, Goodreads